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Thousands of dogs are competing at the illustrious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Judging toward the best in show prize began Monday. Some basics on the big show: It features more than 3,000 canines, as wee as Chihuahuas and as massive as mastiffs. The contestants represent 209 breeds and varieties. First, dogs go up against others of their breed. The winner from each breed moves on to a semifinal round, where they’re judged against others in their “group” – such as hounds, herding dogs or terriers. In the final round, the group winners compete for best in show, which will be awarded Wednesday night.

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The dogs are in the spotlight at the Westminster Kennel Club show. But the storied canine competition is also illuminating the human issue of veterinarians’ mental health. In conjunction with a first-time Veterinarian of the Year award that will be presented Wednesday to Pennsylvania vet Dr. Joseph Rossi, the club is giving $10,000 to a charity focused on veterinary professionals’ psychological welfare. Nearly 3,500 dogs are expected to compete in various events at the Lyndhurst estate in Tarrytown, New York. Events begin with an agility competition Saturday and continue Monday through Wednesday. Best in show will be awarded Wednesday night.

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Judith Harbour, staff veterinary social worker at the Schwarzman Animal Medical Center, sits for a portrait Wednesday, June 15, 2022, in New York. The dogs get the spotlight, but the upcoming Westminster Kennel Club dog show is also illuminating a human issue: veterinarians' mental health. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

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Bean, a Sussex spaniel, appears at a Westminster Kennel Club dog show preview news conference at Hudson Yards in New York, Thursday, June 16, 2022. Bean took crowd-pleasing turns in the final round of the show in 2018 and 2019. The dogs get the spotlight, but the upcoming show is also illuminating a human issue: veterinarians' mental health. (AP Photo/Jennifer Peltz)

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Singe, a 2-year-old mudi, appears at a Westminster Kennel Club dog show preview news conference at Hudson Yards in New York, Thursday, June 16, 2022. The mudi is one of two breeds making their debut at the dog show this year. The dogs get the spotlight, but the upcoming show is also illuminating a human issue: veterinarians' mental health. (AP Photo/Jennifer Peltz)

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An American foxhound named Cardi B appears at a Westminster Kennel Club dog show preview news conference at Hudson Yards in New York, Thursday, June 16, 2022. The American foxhound is among the rare breeds that compete. The dogs get the spotlight, but the upcoming show is also illuminating a human issue: veterinarians' mental health. (AP Photo/Jennifer Peltz)

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A mixed-breed dog named Nala gets ready for an agility demonstration at a Westminster Kennel Club dog show preview news conference at Hudson Yards in New York, Thursday, June 16, 2022. The show's agility competition, introduced in 2014, allows mixed-breed and purebred dogs. The dogs get the spotlight, but the upcoming show is also illuminating a human issue: veterinarians' mental health. (AP Photo/Jennifer Peltz)

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News media members with cameras take photos of dogs at a Westminster Kennel Club dog show preview event along with canine handlers in New York, Thursday, June 16, 2022. The dogs get the spotlight, but the upcoming show is also illuminating a human issue: veterinarians' mental health. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

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A Skye terrier appears at a Westminster Kennel Club dog show preview news conference at Hudson Yards in New York, Thursday, June 16, 2022. The Skye terrier is among the rare breeds that compete. The dogs get the spotlight, but the upcoming show is also illuminating a human issue: veterinarians' mental health. (AP Photo/Jennifer Peltz)

AP
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Singe, a 2-year-old mudi, appears at a Westminster Kennel Club dog show preview news conference at Hudson Yards in New York, Thursday, June 16, 2022. The mudi is one of two breeds making their debut at the dog show this year. The dogs get the spotlight, but the upcoming show is also illuminating a human issue: veterinarians' mental health. (AP Photo/Jennifer Peltz)